Well Done is Better than Well Said

[Originally published on Linkedin, October 17, 2019]

“Well done is better than well said.”

Benjamin Franklin

Marriott International Mission Statement:

"To enhance the lives of our customers by creating and enabling unsurpassed vacation and leisure experiences."

Here is a tale of a large company that did well for their customers in the midst of crisis.

The Story

It was January 2018, and I was visiting the capital of Honduras from my home in San Pedro Sula in the same country. As was my usual practice, I had rooms reserved for the night at the Marriott near the Presidential Palace in Tegucigalpa. The weekend has been tense in the capital due to political unrest resulting from a disputed national election, and protesters had been demonstrating at the Palace. 

It was after dark when we turned the final corner to the Marriott main entrance. We cast our eyes up in amazement. What had previously been a beautiful, grand entry into the hotel was now filled with shattered glass, smoke, twisted metal and furnishings still smoldering from earlier in the day. The entire lobby area and the rest of the main floor had been destroyed by rogue protesters, not under the control of anyone in the organized protest. Apparently, some bright soul decided the hotel was a target for protest, and mayhem had broken out several hours earlier, to the distress of both the government and the Opposition leadership.    

We obviously had no alternate plans for accommodations, and so we approached a hotel security team member to ask who we might speak with regarding the situation. Shortly the General Manager appeared. He said “Mr. Maxwell, we are so very sorry, but the hotel is closed”. I replied gently “Yes, I can see that your issues are much greater than any we could possibly have right now……! Would you have any suggestions for where we might stay tonight?” The GM replied that they had several options available at competitor hotels; we needed only to select one and they would make arrangements.  We selected a close by hotel and made our way over. This scene, I am confident, was repeated for every one of Marriott’s hundreds of guests that evening. I’m sure that this worst-case scenario had been practiced by a team supporting the hotel remotely many times for the undertaking to come off so well. Incredible!

The Outcome

When we arrived at the alternate hotel, we were welcomed and shown to our rooms for a very comfortable nights rest…..I am sure much more comfortable than the Marriott staff who was no doubt on the job of recovery all night and into the coming weeks.     

In the morning we had a good breakfast and were ready to check out to go about the day’s duties. As I presented my credit card for payment, the clerk cheerfully declined to accept the card and told me that Marriott would be handling all charges. No charge for the Marriott, no charge for the competitor hotel, and loyalty points awarded at BOTH hotels, on Marriott as a way of making up for what was really a minor inconvenience on our part, relative to the issues Marriott was experiencing then and in months to come. 

The Principle

Well done is better than well said! 

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